Hiking Hocking Hills

Being in nature is a way that Shane and I find God’s glory. It is no replacement for the unity we can find in a church, small group, or concert setting, but for us, it is a way to find “our Jesus” like I suggested in the last post. What is so extra wonderful to me is that as we stare in wonder at wandering waterfalls, I know that Shane and I are thankful to the same creator, the one and only creator, God.

As good as all the food was on Shane’s birthday getaway, I do have to rave a little about the amazing place we were at, Hocking Hills, Ohio. We arrived on a Friday after a stop at Cabela’s and only did one small hike, if you could even call it that, that evening. We thought we could hit the waterfall labelled “Cedar Falls” before the weather turned, but only made it down the meandering steps down the steep hill to a rock wall and lazy stream before we decided we should turn back. That rock wall alone was amazing and left me wondering how it would sound if it sung out praises.

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If you get a chance to visit this place, let me tell you something that I only learned in hind site: the steps leading down from the parking lot were created by an artist! Akio Hizume designed these nearly 100 steps that lead you to the path below based on the Fibonacci sequence and one dimensional Penrose lattice. Shane and I remarked on the stairs while we were there and their spacing, which now in hind site is funny, because the artist purposely spaced them so you would have to change your leading foot as you walked.

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Had we known how close the falls were, I am certain we could’ve reached them that evening, but instead we parked at the Cedar Falls parking area and viewed them the next day. They were part one to a long hike we planned out that included seeing the Old Man’s Cave and Lower Falls.

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To best describe our hike, we went in then out to the Cedar Falls location, and continued past the artist stairs and around a bend to head on our way to the Old Man’s Cave. Visually on a map, this seemed like an easy hike, and unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of good information in the pamphlets we received from the visitor center on what the hike was actually like. Right off the bat, we hit a little scramble that the dogs enjoyed, we could’ve crossed the shallow stream and avoided it, but we didn’t need to.

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By the time we reached the lower falls, we were passing people headed in the opposite direction asking how much further they needed to go to hit Cedar Falls, some with exasperated looks, and I don’t blame them. That particular path had quite a few ups and downs, narrow points, and was no easy walk in the park. This was fine for Shane and I and the puppy, but we both were aware of how much Jagger might be aching by the end of the day, and as it was, by the time we hit the lower falls, he kept laying down any time he could.

We debated at this point the best way to continue with more stairs to the right of us, should we turn back now or continue on? We decided to at least make it to the Old Man’s Cave, and took the stairs to do so, which weren’t all that bad. People of all ages were doing the stairs after all, so Jagger did well.

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Reaching the very busy Old Man’s Cave, we again stopped and debated, giving Jagger time to lay down, where to go. The was always the opportunity to go back the way we came, but to be honest, that wasn’t an easy hike and we weren’t sure how well the old man, Jagger, would do. We decided to go on towards the ‘A’ frame bridge that crossed the gorge and to take the Gorge Overlook Trail back to Cedar Falls. Knowing that over look meant it would be over the bumpy terrain we just hiked through, I said to Shane it would probably be similar to that hike we did in Ricketts Glen, where after fallowing the water and seeing falls, it traced the top of the gorge and was an easy walk through tall trees. Fortunately for Jagger, that is exactly what this trail turned out to be. It was funny because all along the way we passed people who we had passed at the bottom headed in the opposite direction, we would all give a smile knowing we had all reached our destination and were on the homestretch of our own hikes.

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We got to pass over the breast of the dam that hold back the waters to Rose Lake. This was one of a few metal grated bridges that made Grizz a little nervous.

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Finally we made it made it to a bridge that crossed over to a very small parking lot. We recognized the lot from our drive in, and though it wasn’t our lot, with the grey skies, we thought it would just be quicker to cross here and walk up the road a short distance to where we started. Before we did though, we stopped on a lovely rock bench to reflect, and actually got some cute shots of all of us together; proof that I was indeed on this trip!

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Surprisingly enough, that is the only hiking we did while at Hocking Hills. We agreed we could definitely explore more, because we missed the famous Ash Cave and didn’t even see the Upper Falls that were above the Old Man’s Cave. Unfortunately, I have more pictures of my dogs and man then of the sites because I didn’t have a lens on my camera that allowed for wide angle shots, but was more appropriate for portraits and low light, but I am okay with that. You can look up picture after picture that people took of these places online, and they are all great, but what mattered more to me was who I got to spend the time with, so that is what I captured.

If you plan to go to Hocking Hills for a quick weekend here is a list of tips to make the trip go a little smoother:

  • Print maps of hikes offline, they are a little more detailed than ones we received in the park
  • Remember, waterfalls don’t happen with out elevation, you are in a gorge, there are scrambles and stairs that the maps don’t go into detail about
  • The primitive camping is great and spread out, their normal campsites were a little more crowded but you have electricity and are close to a bathhouse, and in the summer time, a swimming pool
  • Wear good shoes, Shane and I are all about our Keen sandals, but were grateful we had on our hiking shoes for the hike we took
  • Give yourself time for these hikes to stop and wonder, the map may say a half an hour or hour, but if you are stopping to play fetch it takes longer!

Gone Fishing

When spring was trying sneak past winter, and I was still trapped inside due to the chill in the air, I sat down and thought, “I will make a list about fishing, all of the places Shane and I fished together in our first year of marriage.” I can say with certainty, we did not fish enough. Now, this was a list of us together. Shane  went with out me many, many times on the ice and a few times last spring. In the end, this is our list of places we fished as a couple, either alone or with friends and family, in our first year of marriage:

1. Moraine State Park

Okay, this one makes total sense. We could walk to this place if we wanted to. Lake Arthur is a body of water I have worn my hip boot into to practice fly fishing, a place I have walked on when it was cold enough, and of course, we have been out with the boat so many times I have lost track.

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2. Parker Dam State Park

This was the place that was always my go-to growing up. It was natural to share the excitement of opening day together with my dad and Leah this past year on the bank of Parker Lake, although we also hit Laurel Run in this park on the first day. Shane may not be into the “shoulder to shoulder” mayhem with those who have never fished except for on opening day, but we had fun none the less. I think that first day, with a crowded shoreline, can be humbling as you try to catch trout that aren’t that hungry and novices can out-catch you with in minutes.

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3. Frances Slocum State Park

Frances Slocum Lake was a little, but rewarding lake. We were on vacation, so why not just relax by a shoreline after hiking at Ricketts Glen? We set up bobbers and played cards and reeled in fish. This was when Shane commented that maybe once a year he would go bobber fishing usually, but that in that moment, the Sunday before Memorial Day, already gone twice, and he said he can see why people like it.

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4. The Grove City Ponds

This was a place Shane got me out onto the ice again! We had a lot of fun here once we got all set up in the rain in a little pop-up shelter he brought to keep me dry. We caught bluegills here and with his fish finder, we could see them coming in and how they were reacting to our bait. This was one of the most recent places he and I fished considering we are just coming out of ice-fishing season and why it made it over the next location.

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5. Spring Creek

This quick afternoon trip was made with Leah after she and I had been at the Creation Festival. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Leah wanted to experience fly fishing on a creek, Shane had come to the Saturday night concert and so I had told him to bring up fishing stuff so Sunday we could go out on our way home. Unfortunately, this fishing trip didn’t supply us with any catches at all. I just wanted to lay in the cool water, having been in the hot sun all weekend at the festival, so needless to say, with Leah having to head back to Connecticut, we stopped our attempts sooner than Shane probably would’ve liked.

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Sadly, those were the only places that we enjoyed fishing together. After figuring that out, I promptly told Shane, we had to go to more places, even if I had to drag him along kicking and screaming. (Of course, this would never be the case.) Now with the summer sun smiling down on us, looking out to a blue sky, another list has started up on my computer, a list of places where we could get to for a nice day trip and take the boat and Grizz could learn some boating manners.

It’s funny though, because this list reminds me that no matter what we plan, no matter what we have in store, we cannot plan for tomorrow. As it stands right now, Shane and I are with out a truck to haul the boat, and though we have canoes and hip waders and other ways to fish, the truck breaking down has dampened our spirits.

Proverbs 27:1 says not to boast about tomorrow, because we never know what tomorrow may bring, and with my longboard fall and the truck breaking down, we know that to be true. Another couple may be stressing out at the lack of a truck and the dilemmas that may bring as we need one to gather the materials for the new dog fence, haul a boat, or even just to move things with more ease on our property, but as Shane and I discussed what to do about a truck, we decided to just keep praying and waiting. As Shane put it, he has never not had anything he needed provided just at the right time. I love hearing that from him, knowing he is able and capable to wait on the Lord with me.

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

 

 

 

Ricketts Glen, the Almost National Park

I happened to stumble across Ricketts Glen when researching “things to see in PA” for a Christmas present I was putting together for Shane. I knew it was important that he and I make “He and I Time” in our new marriage, so although not married last Christmas, I gave him a gift of various parks I basically made a report out of that we could do short weekend trips to. The only thing missing was the MLA citations.

Most of his vacation days would be used up on our honeymoon, then what was left over was to be split with his family vacation and time off at Christmas time for my family and muzzleloader, so these had to be trips I researched had to fit into three days. Out of all the places I looked into, Ricketts became the first park we traveled to together that neither of us had ever seen before. Okay, so technically Leah joined us on our travel there. Actually, to get even more specific, she and I were in her car belting out musical tunes and Shane followed us, after all, Ricketts Glen was on her way home, so she might as well join us for a hike.

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And what a hike it was! We hit the big one right off the bat, the Falls Trail that guided you down stone stairs and over wooden bridges to view some of the most picturesque waterfalls you could ever imagine. There were a few options for starting this trail, and we began ours from the Lake Rose parking lot and traveled counterclockwise on this 3.4 mile circular trail, it was a suggestion we had seen on line, and it said by doing this you’d be taking some of the steeper parts descending rather than climbing, and it did seem that way. Our other option would have been to begin the hike on the Kitchen Creek Falls Trail to take us to the loop of all the waterfalls, but it would add a few miles and therefor time.

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I won’t go on about each fall, and I’m not going to post a picture showing each one of the 17 waterfalls featured on that trail alone. You really can’t grasp their splendor in the pictures, and it is something you just have to see for yourself. It is crazy to think that this gem of a park was almost a national park, but now Pennsylvania gets to call it its own. Something Pennsylvania should be proud of! It was neat to learn that bit of history about this place too.

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We really hit it out of the park the first evening going on this hike. The next day was filled with other walks, but the seeing all the falls was definitely my favorite part. It was a hike that you could do multiple times on one weekend trip and still see something new.

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Frances Slocum

When I put together this weekend, it didn’t feel last minute. I got the idea to plan this little trip over Memorial Day a little over a month ahead of time, and Shane and I were really excited by the idea. I pulled up my laptop to reserve a dog friendly camping site at Ricketts Glen and was out of luck. The place was booked solid. Okay, so not entirely solid. I think there was a tent site or two available, but they didn’t allow dogs, and dear Jagger would be coming with us.

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I searched other camp sites near Ricketts Glen, and although places came up, I couldn’t get a sense of what they were like. I expanded my search to other state parks near by, and I was lucky enough to discover Ricketts Glen had a next door neighbor called Frances Slocum State Park. It looked tiny, but with a body of water at it’s center, and a dog site available, I booked it.

Arriving in the evening at site 61 after one hike at Ricketts, the Frances Slocum campground seemed tight, but well kept, and the sites had ample room. The big trees that were on our site is what we needed for our tentsile tent to hover above the ground. We discovered the next day as we took Jagger on a walk that we were the last dog friendly site, so we could walk to the lake and the amphitheater with him, but not beyond us to the group tenting area, which was fine. The night we arrived, it was fairly quite, and we seemed to be one of the only fires that went on until dark, but the next day lot’s of families descended, and soon our quiet little camp ground was full of squeals and giggles from kids, nods from neighbors walking by, and an occasional dog bark, normally from Jagger himself. People still didn’t stay up very late, and everyone really respected the 9 pm quiet time, which made our evening fires very peaceful.

Saturday was spent exploring Ricketts Glen, a very cool state park I will get into in another post. Saturday evening, we did go to the amphitheater and enjoyed the music of Jay Smar, a folk singer who picked and crooned old folk songs and mining songs. Sunday was spent at Frances, beginning with a very long, slow breakfast of breakfast burritos at the fire. I had pre-made these yummy wraps before we left, so we sat at sipped our coffee while the foil wrapped mummies warmed up in the fire.

After breakfast, we searched the country side for a bait shop to get minnows for some bobber fishing in the Frances Slocum Lake. This became a meandering drive of at least an hour, if not longer because we couldn’t find a bait shop. The first one that Google took us too was not a bait shop, the address it dropped us off at was someones house; they didn’t even have a sign on their garage that said bait. Off we went to the another bait shop below 118 in Hunlock Creek called Bait Buddies. He had everything we needed and also had some cool handmade arrows and knives that his son from Maine created.

Back to Frances Slocum we went to do some bobber fishing. Shane commented that maybe once a year he would go bobber fishing usually, but he’s already gone twice this year and he said he can see why people like it. It is indeed relaxing and doesn’t take much effort. In fact, we played cards most of the time. We did get three bass, but lost them right before they were in our grasp, and beyond that we got a crappie and a big blue gill.

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At the end of the weekend, Shane was trying to make a pro and cons list of coming to this particular state park over Pymatuning State Park, and what was really decided was that the proximity to Ricketts Glen made this one appealing, otherwise Pymatuning is bigger and closer. Between the two, Frances Slocum would not win if we were to pick between the two for a weekend of boating and fishing.

But, the history of Frances Slocum was really neat, and gave the little park another point on the pro’s list. Apparently on of the trails, there is a rock shelter where five year old Frances Slocum was kept an evening by the Delaware Tribe Indians who took her from her family in 1778. She grew up as Maconaquah and stayed with her Indian family even after her brothers, who never gave up the search, found her as an adult.

Over all, I am glad we found this little gem of a park. We enjoyed live music, fishing, and got to try out our tentsile tent for the first time. Jagger was able to join us because they had dog friendly sites, which resulted in him enjoying his own tent. We weren’t far from Ricketts Glen, and although it wasn’t our original intent to stay there, we did and found out some great Pennsylvania history.

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